Sundar Pichai is set to replace Google co-founder Larry Page as CEO of Alphabet, after both Page and his fellow co-founder Sergey Brin announced that they were both stepping down from their roles at Google’s parent company.
Pichai has been CEO of Google since the formation of Alphabet in 2015 and has been gradually weaning the company off its overreliance on its advertising business. During his tenure, Google has doubled down on consumer hardware and extended its offering in the cloud computing space, both areas which analysts predict the company could grow even further in the future.
While Page and Brin will be stepping back from the day-to-day running of the Alphabet empire, Pichai won’t have the complete control that was afforded to the two co-founders. That’s because both Page and Brin will retain their seats on the board, and currently hold 51% of voting rights, meaning they could overrule any of Pichai’s decisions. Despite that, the two co-founders admit that Alphabet and Google do not need two CEOs, as the majority of the parent company’s revenue comes from Google, and a closer alignment between business units is something that could benefit Alphabet going forward.
Not much is expected to change with Pichai taking up the mantle of Alphabet CEO, as he will still retain his position at Google. The only main difference is that Pichai will now be responsible for Alphabet’s ‘Other Bets’, which includes the likes of self-driving vehicle tech firm, Waymo, the developer of neural networks, DeepMind, and biotech company, Calico.
In an open letter to employees, Page and Brin bid farewell to their roles at Alphabet reflecting on the huge transformation the company has undergone since they founded Google 21 years ago.
“Since we wrote our first founders’ letter, the company has evolved and matured. Within Google, there are all the popular consumer services that followed Search, such as Maps, Photos, and YouTube; a global ecosystem of devices powered by our Android and Chrome platforms, including our own Made by Google devices; Google Cloud, including GCP and G Suite; and of course a base of fundamental technologies around machine learning, cloud computing, and software engineering. It’s an honor that billions of people have chosen to make these products central to their lives—this is a trust and responsibility that Google will always work to live up to.
“And structurally, the company evolved into Alphabet in 2015. As we said in the Alphabet founding letter in 2015:
“Alphabet is about businesses prospering through strong leaders and independence.
“Since we wrote that, hundreds of Phoenix residents are now being driven around in Waymo cars—many without drivers! Wing became the first drone company to make commercial deliveries to consumers in the U.S. And Verily and Calico are doing important work, through a number of great partnerships with other healthcare companies. Some of our ‘Other Bets’ have their own boards with independent members, and outside investors.
“Those are just a few examples of technology companies that we have formed within Alphabet, in addition to investment subsidiaries GV and Capital G, which have supported hundreds more. Together with all of Google’s services, this forms a colorful tapestry of bets in technology across a range of industries—all with the goal of helping people and tackling major challenges.”
Alphabet was created to allow Page and Brin have more time to concentrate on other projects, rather than focusing on the day-to-day running of the giant that Google had become. Instead, it led to both of Google’s co-founders stepping out of the limelight, leading many analysts to believe that this day has been coming since 2015. What Alphabet’s future will look like without its co-founders steering the ship remains to be seen, but we imagine it’ll be business as usual. In fact, Pichai has pretty much said as much in an email to employees:
“I want to be clear that this transition won't affect the Alphabet structure or the work we do day to day. I will continue to be very focused on Google and the deep work we’re doing to push the boundaries of computing and build a more helpful Google for everyone. At the same time, I’m excited about Alphabet and its long term focus on tackling big challenges through technology.”
Both Page and Brin have also committed to remaining in contact with Pichai, meaning it’s likely they’ll still have a role to play in the company they helped create.